Georgia is Family

I don’t know if I have ever faced more difficulty in preparation of a speech. How do you condense in a few minutes the joyous obligation of a host to tell educated guests about where they are, and how do you put such a description in an international context? When describing the terror that your country has gone through, how do you keep a cheerful and a positive spirit? Where do you draw the line between an academic presentation and an event-specific, concerned narrative? How do you denounce without offending, or tell the harsh truth to friends and partners, without turning them into enemies? Whom do you address: your beloved compatriots, your dear guests, or someone not sitting in this hall but listening very carefully to this Congress? So my dear Patriarch and our dear audience, have mercy on me in your judgment. As a host, I am obliged to brief our foreign guests on modern Georgia, its hardships and joys, its threats and dreams. Perhaps the foreign part of this audience will see many parallels with their own countries and draw relevant conclusions for their own reality. Our ancient country is one of the oldest Christian nations in the world. We are proud owner of a rare, authentic language, culture, alphabet, and polyphony; we are one of the planet’s most indigenous ethnoses, which scientists believe has lived here for at least 6,000 years. And we are yet again torn in the battle of the superpowers. Perhaps not blameless, we host you in hard times for our nation. But as you will see during your visit, no hardship prevents us Georgians—or Qartveli as we call ourselves—from being happy, hospitable, and respectful towards our guests.  We Georgians believe that when God gave lands to the nations, we were, as always, late. We asked God to forgive us for being late, because we were hosting guests. And we asked Him to, nonetheless, give us a land to live in as well. The Forgiving Father gave us the last piece of earth, which He had actually saved f
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